By Natalie Taylor
Bonnie Lee Black gives the term “by the book” a double edged meaning. She is not, as the idiom implies, unbending and a stickler for rules; she has taken risks and chances throughout her life. Bonnie lived in Africa for many years, some of them as a Peace Corps volunteer, and then with other organizations. She is, however, very much bound to books in the sense that she is an author, an avid reader, and relies on books for knowledge and decision-making. Books, she says, led her to San Miguel de Allende.
She first came in 2015 for the International Writers Conference and fell in love with the city at first sight. But it was speaking to other attendees that made her start thinking seriously about moving here. At the conference she would sit next to someone—usually women, and would strike up a conversation. When asking where they were from, she was astonished that so many of them were residents of the city. Further questions about how they liked living here, invariably brought out raves about their experience and how much they loved it. Bonnie said that after so many of these interactions she began to feel like the female protagonist of When Harry Met Sally; she was ready to call out: “I’ll have what she’s having!”
After the conference she spent four months in Guanajuato housesitting. As much as she enjoyed that city, she found herself taking the bus to San Miguel again and again. She found it easier to navigate because in the “flat part” near Centro, you can walk for hours without steep climbs. She returned to Taos, where she had lived and taught at NMU for 14 years and read just about every book about San Miguel that she could get her hands on. The books helped her make her choice. By December of 2015, she had sold or given away her possessions and moved here for good.
It has now been almost six years since Bonnie’s move here and she is happy with her decision. After all this time she is familiar with the city, she has become integrated in the community, and considers San Miguel her home. She loves the beauty all around—the intense colors of buildings in Centro, the blueness of the sky, the cascading bougainvillea, the colorful costumes during the many festivals, the rich history and culture of Mexico. She also loves that this is an integrated community where foreigners and locals live harmoniously; with what she calls soulfulness. It’s an easy city for a single woman because of the many ways to connect to others, and she has volunteered for several non-profit groups to help the locals. Her life is filled with writing, with good friends, and doing her part to give back to the Sanmiguelense community that she has fully embraced.
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